Illegal tobacco sales to minors at an all-time low

A   new report on the Synar Amendment program – a federal and state partnership   aimed at ending illegal tobacco sales to minors—shows that all the states and   the District of Columbia have continued to meet their goals of curtailing   sales of tobacco to underage youth (those under 18). The report by the   Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which   sponsors the Synar program shows that the average national retailer violation   rate of tobacco sales is down to 8.5 percent, the lowest level in the history   of the program.

“As   the recent Surgeon General’s Report on Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and   Young Adults notes, smoking is the nation’s leading cause of preventable   death. We must pursue every opportunity to prevent kids and young adults of   today from becoming life-long adult smokers of tomorrow,” said SAMHSA   Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “The success of the Synar program is a   testament to how preventing underage youth from gaining illegal access to   tobacco products can have a tremendous impact.”

The   Synar Amendment (introduced by the late Representative Mike Synar of Oklahoma   and enacted as Section 1926 of the federal Public Health Service Act)   requires states and U.S. jurisdictions to have laws and enforcement programs   for prohibiting the sale and distribution of tobacco to persons under 18. The   program is part of SAMHSA strategic initiative on preventing substance abuse   and mental illness.

Under   the regulation implementing the Synar Amendment, states and U.S. jurisdictions   must report annually to SAMHSA on their retailer violation rates, which   represent the percentage of inspected retail outlets that sold tobacco   products to a customer under the age of 18.

For   the sixth year in a row, no state was found out of compliance with the Synar   regulation – in fact:

  • 12 of the 51 states achieved a   retailer violation rate below 5 percent, up from 9 states in fiscal year   2010.
  • · 34 states achieved a retailer   violation rate below 10 percent.

These   rates continue to stand in sharp contrast with the situation 15 years ago at   the Synar program’s inception when the highest reported state retailer   violation rate was 72.7 percent.

Another   tobacco related report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and   Prevention (CDC) shows sharp increases in total consumption of cigars and   loose tobacco products last year offset the decline in total cigarette   consumption. The CDC report found that while total cigarette   consumption continued an 11-year downward trend with a 2.5 percent decline   from 2010 to 2011, total consumption of other forms of smoked tobacco   products was up more than 17 percent last year.

Further   information about the Synar program is available at: http://www.samhsa.gov/prevention/2011-Annual-Synar-Report.pdf.

Further information about the CDC   report is available at: www.cdc.gov/mmwr


SAMHSA is a public health agency within   the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to reduce the   impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.